Friday, April 27, 2007

The One About the Ballerina

K just got promoted to the Advanced Class at her Ballet School. I am so proud of her! What makes this such a tremendous accomplishment is the fact that she just started taking class last September 4, 2006.

I enrolled her when she was three but she hated it and gave up after a lesson. She asked to enroll again at the age of eight and lasted six weeks and one recital.

So when she asked me for lessons at the age of sixteen, I was hesitant. But wanting to be supportive, I had her do research on whether it was not too late for her to start.

She was told it wasn't and enrolled the first Monday of September.

K turned 17 last December and we gave her pointe shoes. Her father and I split the cost.

This week, she started with the Advanced Class and is loving every painful minute of it - the 500 crunches, the daily pointe class, the tandem stretching. She is obsessed with ballet. Always in dance forums and ballet sites online, and doing anything she can to get better, better, better.

Which is why I need to be sure that where we end up in the US will have a great ballet school for her to keep doing what she lives, breathes and eats (or not) for. I could not bear the thought of taking her away from something that is so important to her and which, remarkably feels the same way about her.

song playing on my windows player: she talks to angels by the black crowes

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


i know my mom told me to be totally neutral about Florida or Hawaii but...

really? Hawaii?

i'm trying my best to keep neutral. trying. trying. trying!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Offer from Hawaii

The e-mail I had been waiting for finally came in. It was sent a few days after my pastor friend in Pearl City called me to touch base and see how my plans are coming along. I felt like I was being half-interviewed. Simply because it wasn't a social call, the social stuff these days are brief chats over IM - Skype, Yahoo, Twitter. This was an actual conversation on the t-e-l-e-p-h-o-n-e.

The job is waiting for me. I, on the other hand, am waiting for the US Embassy to send me word on my daughter's petition.

Everything is hinged on this. Only then will I be able to explore Plan B's, C's and even D's if necessary.

Hawaii at this point is a practical choice - job. waiting. for. me. No friends for both of us... yet.

The jury is still out. Let's wait.

song playing in my room: the electric fan and breeze from my window

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech on My Mind

Such a tragedy. I am deeply saddened by this. More so because this is the America that I am moving back to and looking forward to showing my child.

But there is no place on earth where we are safe from the bad.

Evil can take the form of any skin color.

In America.

And in the Philippines.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Step One Point Five

It's filed. My daughter's petition is now officially with the US Embassy and we are now tasked with the part that requires patience - the waiting.

Today was uneventful. Unlike yesterday. The difference? My attitude mostly. I went there completely surrendered to whatever was going to come at me. My God is in control! I repeated to myself over and over.

I disarmed the guards with my smile, surrendered all three of my electronic devices - two mobile phones and my iPod - at the security check, sat down at the DHS and waited for numbers to be distributed, and went to the window when it was my turn.

Same officer. Better mood. I made small talk, which I routinely do, and I was off to pay the required fees.

After a stop at the American Services section, an hour later I was out the door and on my way to work.

Lessons learned today:

Hundreds of Filipinos line up at the US Embassy in Manila everyday. Each one wanting, or needing, to go to America. All walks of life are represented in the long lines and waiting areas: the ultra-rich, the well-educated, the uncultured, the regular Juans and even the poor; all hoping to get their taste of the US. Each one lining up at the crack of dawn to face their dreams, or dread, of sitting across the powers at the embassy that will decide their fate.

If there is a will, there are many ways. My goal is to save money and taking cabs for each trip to the embassy is starting to burn a hole in my pretty purse(s). Today, I discovered an alternative form of transportation in the form of a neighborhood shuttle. Not only did I save on travel expenses, I got to clock in a good number of steps on my trusty pedometer from my five block walk (7,373 steps so far and the day is far from over!). As of last count, I now know three routes to the embassy. Admittedly, cabs are the fastest way to get there.

Someone knows more than me. Two of my good friends, R and J, are way ahead of me in the game and the ones who pushed me to follow their lead. Because of their lessons learned, I have a much clearer path to walk on. And because they have been where I now am, I truly appreciate the encouragement and comfort they provide when they say, "We understand how you feel!" The best part is having someone tell me, "Here's what you need to do next..."

People are thinking the world of K and I. My pastors and friends are all cheering us on through this. The scriptures they share and the little smiley faces they send to my mobile keep me propped up. Without them, and my new friends in the blogosphere and on Twitter, this journey would be a significantly bigger challenge.

K and I have officially begun altering the course of our existence. It hasn't fully set in that the people we love dearly - our friends and family in Manila - will be left behind. I refuse to dwell on the thought that potentially, we may never see them again. Thank God for cyberspace, our world is much smaller and people are only a website, a chat, a Skype call, and a Twit away. Nevertheless, I sigh at the possibility.

Staff raised like Moses, we now wait for God to do the rest. Whatever that may be.

song playing on my ipod: you're all i have by snow patrol

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Step One

I was thinking of a title for today's blog as I walked around the neighborhood. Since buying a pedometer, my daily goal has been to make 10,000 steps. I normally average 7,000 to 8,000, so when I get home, I just walk some more to reach my goal.

Walking helps clear my mind. And relaxes me. Today, I walked 12,154 steps because of this morning's events. I almost entitled this blog, "Discrimination at the Gate".

I arrived at the US Embassy in Manila close to 7AM. It's located along Roxas Blvd. Long lines are to be expected at this place... year-round. I get there, and am herded to the end. Normally, US citizens are allowed to enter without having to line up at the first stop on embassy grounds. For some reason, today was different. Not wanting to make a scene or expect preferential treatment even though I am American, I obediently go to the end of the line. Filipino guards are shouting, "American Services, DHS, SSS, Veteran's, Non-Immigrant Visas, this line."

I make eye contact with a guard and smile. I wave my blue passport hoping to be told I'm in the wrong line. Nothing.

Fifteen minutes later as the line starts moving, I notice Caucasians and African Americans are being waved through after showing their blue passports. At this point, I'm already five people away from the head of the line. I interrupt said guard waving all the foreigners through, look him in the eye and say, "You told me to line up. I showed you my blue passport. Why didn't you let me through this way?"

He defends himself and asks, "Where are you going?"

"Inside the embassy. I'm a US citizen."

"What department are you going to?" A question the foreigners are not asked.

I was thisclose to blowing my top. I opt for calm. "DHS." He waves me through.

The rest of my time inside the embassy is spent reading a book I'm glad I brought. After ninety minutes of waiting and one minute at the window with an officer, I'm asked to bring another document that's not on the list. Tomorrow.

How anti-climactic. Discouraged, I head to work to clock in and re-file my morning leave for Friday. A pastry from Bread Talk provides comfort for the cab ride halfway across town. At the office, I poke around the blogosphere and am pleasantly surprised to find a new blogger, my pastor, with this post - about his eight year old son's death, and his coming to terms with letting God be God.

I repent for my heart's condition: its pride, its selfishness, its discouragement.

So I had a bad day. A guard gave me a little bit of attitude and I didn't get to accomplish what I set out to do. My friend and pastor lost his only son at the age of eight. I kick myself in the butt.

Job's words of how God gives and takes away have always been my sobering reminder when I let ugliness into my soul. It is a privilege to even be allowed to live and breathe on this earth. Who am I to think anything is ever owed to me?

Getting my daughter to the US is irrelevant. It's the journey of my character that matters most to God. Hopefully when, or if, we get to Hawaii or Florida, I will be more like His Son.

song playing in my room: the soft rumble of the airconditioner

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


My good friend R just sent me an SMS on my mobile that his daughter D finally got her Visa. I am ecstatic with him and J. They are both good friends. And since they are the catalysts of my journey, I'm encouraged by this news.

D and R will now be joining J and the next chapter remains to be written - will they stay there or will they come back? R says they will come back. I'm a firm believer in God changing our plans, so I eagerly await what's next for them.

My mind has been on Florida for a couple of days now. Three cities to be exact.

Tallahassee is where my favorite people and good friends now live. The T family has generously and lovingly offered us a place to stay for a season until we settle in, i.e. get a job, an apartment, a school, etc. We are like family and I feel very secure in knowing I can run to them. Besides, K and I love their three boys - the 3Zs - and would jump at any chance to babysit and play with them.

Miami is the site of a church plant this year and it has many possibilities for us. I have acquaintances moving there for this exact purpose but I'm not too sure about whether K and I are called there. It does look like a multi-ethnic, vibrant city. And I'm sure it would be an adventure to call it home.

Orlando is a city I wrote about for work. And the site of another church plant this year. Friends will be moving there. That is a big plus for me - to be with familiar people. People who will be in the same situation of relocating. K will be with friends. And so will I.

Much more to post but have my mind on my embassy visit tomorrow. As K blogged, we're doing a Moses and letting God part our Red Sea.

This is officially step one.

song playing on my cd player: rock awards 2001-2002 the official compilation

Monday, April 9, 2007

simple thing

mom's filing the petition this week already. i feel... excited? scared? hmmm.. you got a thesaurus? hehehe. excited i guess since this is the first step and the first step in any situation is very vital. right? right.

scared because once the first step is done, things will most likely seem so... final. i know there's the visa interview thing and other concerns but, i know that god's gonna take care of all those things.

i'm reminded of moses and his staff. god told him to do that one simple thing - raise his staff. moses obeyed, after some reluctance, and god parted the red sea. we're doing that simple thing that we are capable of. raising our staff and letting god do the rest.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Lenten Season in Manila

It's been hot in the Philippines as summer rolls in lazily, casting a spell on all in its path. We. Are. Hot-headed. Literally. No fists flying or wounding words, just good old fashioned hot all around.

Thank God it rained a bit this morning. We've cooled off somewhat but the downside is that it's more humid.

As is the tradition in this predominantly Catholic nation, we are on HOLIDAY for Maundy Thursday (today) and Good Friday (tomorrow), and even Monday, because it will be Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). Loooong break. Many are off at the beach, others are enjoying the traffic free streets of Manila sans its usual volume of cars and public transportation, and others, like us, are holed up at home doing absolutely nothing. Almost. I am after all blogging.

Random things are popping in my mind. I will be heading to the embassy next week and next week too is when my pastor friend P and I will be talking via the internet. Hawaii's chances are moving up the scale but I'm not casting my vote just yet. I have Florida and possibly New York on the list so I don't want to say anything for now. Simply because I can't. I just don't know yet, is more accurate.

I'm about to turn on the A/C and finish three books - Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend, and On Writing Well by William Zinsser - that have been waiting for me. In the middle of all of this, I am doing the most important thing I can do when faced with a crucial decision - I'm fasting. WE are fasting. Me from food and K from the internet. *wink wink* (Thus, I am online today and she is not.)

Fasting is not torture. It is a spiritual discipline. I just happen to be doing this now during the Lenten season for three reasons - I have no work so I am more able to focus on the Word (both reading and hearing); I need all the wisdom and favor I can get for the coming weeks as I decide on where to move us; I love God and simply want to spend uninterrupted time with Him.

My cup overflows.

His greatness is beyond our understanding.

His banner over me is love.

Easter is three days away. What better time for me to recall how loved I am. That no matter what is in store for us, my Jesus already knows.

song playing on my ipod: lord of all by jose villanueva

Tuesday, April 3, 2007



right now, i'd rather move to the mainland since two of my friends are moving there permanently. easier to visit each other. and, i can just drive to mexico. i've always wanted to go there and have authentic mexican food.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Got a message on Skype from my pastor friend in Hawaii who has my resume. He says we need to talk soon. I’m curious. This whole journey began the last week of January after a conversation with R and J about my needing to petition K before she turns eighteen. Two weeks later, my pastor friend P arrives from Hawaii for two weeks of R & R and into his hands (or rather Inbox), I delivered my resume.Going on in my head at the time were the thoughts: it would be wise to have a job waiting for me wherever we end up; and a good community college or ballet school or troupe for K.

The former is for a sense of security since I am, after all, responsible for another human being; the latter is important for my future prima ballerina whose life I am about to drastically change. I know I can trust God for both, but I am doing my part of the equation in taking action.

It’s been roughly a week since that Skype chat and I’m patiently waiting for the real one. I bide my time poking around message boards on moving to Hawaii and sifting through random jobs available on the job market. I’d have to start from scratch as a voice talent or radio talent, if at all…

The common denominator on Hawaii is that it is expensive… but gorgeous. And laid back. Expensive.

It also has a very large Filipino community.

Hmmm. Do I want to move us where it will look familiar – fellow brown faces and palm trees but in the US? Or do I keep my options open and do my homework on Orlando and Tallahassee, Florida?

Aloha. For now.

song playing on my ipod: finger eleven's one thing